Post # 1
So I got engaged this last Christmas Eve, and we always talked about our wedding being next summer (2011.) We were planning on getting married outdoors at a family owned summer camp, on a pavillion and having an awesome bonfire afterward.
Both of us are new teachers, and just got a job teaching English in Bahrain. Bahrain is a small island in the Persian Gulf. It’s a safe place, with a large foreign population of westerners (ex pats.) Safety won’t be an issue, we’ll be in an American neighborhood, and Bahrain is considered very liberal and accepting of Westerners. I could wear jeans, etc, without being disrespectful to their culture. However, some laws still apply. Since weren’t not yet married, my fiance and I couldn’t legally live together. We would have same sex roommates- they’re young teachers our age; it would probably be fun. Still, we’ve talked about eloping before we go for several reasons:
-we could live together
-if we traveled outside of Bahrain (to Iran, Israel, etc) we might be safer. This is especially true if one of us was in the hospital in an emergency.
-if anything unexpected happens, we might have an easier time legally.
I’m debating. I love the idea of a simple courthouse wedding this summer. But when I picture our wedding, I picture the wonderful outdoor wedding at my family’s summer camp. We couldn’t marry at the camp this summer because the pavillion/multipurpose building that would seat 200 people won’t be ready until 2011 and we haven’t sent out any Save-The-Date Cards. Do you think it’s lame to elope and have a ceremony a year later? Does an elopment take away from the wedding ceremony, knowing you’re already married?
On the other hand, if we go over engaged, it might be fun living with other roommates. It might help us be more social in a new country, instead of just shutting ourselves in an apartment.
Post # 3
So, we did something almost exactly like this, down to the camping celebration a year later (our impetus was immigration reasons – my husband needed a green card ASAP). This is what I’ve taken away from it:
If you want the party next year to feel like your wedding, you should probably make the courthouse ceremony as informal as possible. We went a middle road – invited our parents, I wore my mom’s wedding dress, he wore a suit, we had about 20 people over to our house last night. It was only afterwards that I realized I actually wanted a wedding that all my friends could come to, so we’re having a big, weekend-long party next year. But it doesn’t feel like a wedding, because I already did that, even though it was small. So I’ve dealt with it by not calling it our wedding, just a party to celebrate our marriage, and I’ve made my peace with that. But if I’d known in advance that I would want a bigger wedding anyway, I would have just gone to the courthouse in jeans, not invited anyone, and done the paperwork.
Also, there are definitely some people who aren’t making it a priority to come to this party because they know we’re already married. I think this would have been less of an issue if they hadn’t seen the pictures of us all dressed up at the courthouse – that made it seem more like “well, they already had a wedding, so this is just a party.” Luckily, that’s not been the reaction from close friends, but be prepared to get that from a few people…and for it to be magnified if the courthouse wedding looks “weddingy.”
All that said, though, I am SO GLAD we got married in advance. I don’t know how it will play out in your situation (ie, would you have flatmates but be permitted to sleep in each other’s rooms sometimes, or would you never be able to be alone)? But for us, it was absolutely the right decision.
Post # 4
Also, if the camp isn’t ready that’s one thing, but you could totally get married this summer in a ‘real wedding’ if you want to. This is plenty of advance notice still, unless there are unusual situations in your family.
Post # 5
I would definitely have the courthouse wedding!! It really sounds like this is the way to go. When you invite people to your big wedding next year, you can word the invites to reflect the situation.
Post # 6
Thanks for the replies. I’ve been weighing my options and have decided to have a year and half engagement and get married in 2011. I think it will keep my options more open overseas. I think have a girl roomie (who is also engaged) will be fun and it will give me more time to plan a wedding. But I do loooove the birdcage veilsl, dainty gloves and sweet dresses of courthouse weddingsl. Sigh. I’ll just buy myself a cute hat and wear it out of a few times 🙂
Post # 7
We ran into a similar situation when my FH was offered a job in Dubai (which he ultimately did not take). We would have HAD to get married because of visa reasons. He couldn’t sponsor me to come with him unless we were married. However, if you are both being sponsored by the company, that wouldn’t be an issue. We just found that a lot of the red tape in the Middle Eastern governements got much easier if we were married.
Post # 8
My Fiance worked in Abu Dhabi and Qatar for six months and I went to visit him there. We were not under any intense scrutiny in corporate housing, and I was only there for two weeks, so it was alright, it made me nervous not to have a marriage license.
The area is fairly safe and liberal, but keep in mind that Islamic law still applies. Having a male family member in the country would be a definite advantage. Also, if you want to do any traveling and see Dubai or other nearby hot-spots, you will need a marriage license to get a hotel room together.
If you decide you’d rather wait to get married, please be careful. If you don’t spend the night together in the same room it’s pretty safe, but be sure not to arouse suspicion.
Aside from that, hope you have an amazing time there! The expat communities in the middle east are very strong and vibrant, I meet some great people there.
Post # 9
@LittleAudrey: I know this is OT but — I am a teacher, how do you arrange these Middle East teaching gigs? I would love to teach abroad for a year!